The Origin of Consciousness

By Don Davis

Human beings are held “captive” by the five physical senses – sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste. In the audio world I’ve only met a few who couldn’t clearly perceive that the movement of a paper or metal diaphragm sounding like a voice or music is in fact an illusion. Those of you that have had a basic course in optics come to understand virtual images, perspective, and other illusions of the visual sense.

Unfortunately a vast majority of people never question the evidence presented by their senses and regard that evidence as “reality.” I’ve been writing a series of articles published in the Syn-Aud-Con Newsletter for the thinkers present in our midst.

  • * (a) “Are you ready for scientific metrology?” Vol. 31, No 2, Spring 2003, pp 8 & 9
  • * (b) “Information, What is it?” Vol. 36 N4 August 2008 pp 8 & 9,
  • * (c) “The Field.” Vol. 37 January 2009 pp 4-7
  • * (d) “The Reach of Physics in our Lives.” Vol.37 August 2009 pp 10 & 11

Life lived by the senses is primarily reactionary, as it must be to survive driving a car, etc. Thinkers go beyond reactionary to analytical. When I worked for Paul Klipsch many years ago I was struck by his totally unique attack on even the simplest of problems. I later came to realize that he rarely reacted, but actually approached the problem “child-like” and thought his way to his own solution. Immanuel Kant wrote, “Science is organized knowledge. Wisdom is organized life.” Klipsch had organized his life around original thinking rather than stored answers.

Another philosopher, John Haldane said, “My own suspicion is that the universe is not only stranger than we suppose, but stranger than we can suppose.”

The electromagnetic theory of consciousness says that the electromagnetic field generated by the brain, measurable by electro-corticography, is the actual carrier of conscious experience. That is to say, the electrical operation of the neurons and synapses generates such a field. If true, this theory would explain many puzzling facts that the present algorithmic approach to artificial intelligence can’t handle and never will handle. An early version of this theory saw spatially patterned electromagnetic fields – shared patterns rather than algorithmic paths.

Locating consciousness in the brain’s EM field rather than the neurons has the advantage of neatly accounting for how information located in millions of neurons scattered throughout the brain can be unified into a single conscious experience, sometimes called the binding problem. If information is unified in the EM field, consciousness can be considered to be “joined up information.”

John Wheeler wrote, “Of all the strange features of the universe, none are stranger than these: Time is transcended, laws are mutable, and observer participancy matters.” This is the John Wheeler of “its from bits.”

Look up DeBono’s vertical vs lateral thinking. He has trademarked these words and fully described their technical meaning. What occurs when DeBono disconnects thinking from an algorithmic path into a global mental search forces a great deal of the above. Such mental sweeps defy even quantum definitions or as Edward Gibbon wrote, “The laws of probability so true in general, so fallacious in particular” suggest a wider field than calculable. Einstein wrote: “Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted,” which later led to J. S. Bell’s use of FAPP (for all practical purposes.)

Approached from a different angle Frank Wilczek said, “That works in practice but what about in theory?” — this illustrates life in audio.

When Carolyn and I started SynAudCon we knew Richard Heyser through our participation in AES. We had played a part in the development of the HP’s real time analyzer and the HP 35. We were prepared to teach the basics of electro-acoustics from what we had learned in developing Altec Acousta-Voicing. John Wheeler is quoted: “if you would learn, teach.”

We quickly learned that members of our seminars quite often knew more than we did but didn’t always recognize that authority in themselves. To illustrate, we attempted to demonstrate what happens when one challenges the orthodoxy of the day. For example, we showed the class comb filters, something most of us had never seen. We had demonstrated the comb filters in several classes when one member of the class innocently said, “What do they sound like?” This was something that we all had listened to in speech but had never heard before. Thinking went on in those classes! Because we approached problems by sharing our ignorance, we gained not just techniques but a mind set different than the one we initially had.

We are in the middle of a technology that will require each of us to truly advance in our understanding of what electromagnetic really means. Those that think in terms of volts and amps, FAPP, will be left behind as solid state devices manipulate the full field. I without hesitation predict that by the year 2100 I will not be around but what I’ve just discussed will predominate.


“Joined up information”

Edmund DeBono

John Wheeler

Frank Wilczek


I had just finished writing the above when part of my prediction came true: Dirac’s monopole prediction 75 years ago came true in Nature*) “Measurement of the charge and current of magnetic monopoles in spin ice.”

So what, you say. This I the equivalent of Millikan’s Oil Drop Experiment that measured the electron’s charge – the birth of electronics. The magnetic current flow has been named “Magnetricity.”

Try these new measurement. The amount of magnetic charge on the monopole turns out to be five Bohr magentons per angstrom (5ΒΑ−1)

Unlike the electric charge on electrons, which is fixed, the magnetic charge on monopoles varies with the temperature and pressure of the spin ice.

“Spin ice” – dysprosium titanate (Dy2 Ti2 O7) which can crystallize into special lattice with a geometry called pyrochlore-lattice.

For those of you from Loma Linda, the Bohr Magneton is in Kelvin per Telsa (K/T). The Tesla is in weber per meter squared (wb/m). One angstrom is 0.1 nm or 10-10m.

You are truly living in an even more promising period for individual growth in a new technology than those of us who felt the uniqueness of the early 20th Century technology.

When Orstead went OOPS seeing the magnet affected by the electric wire, so too the discovery of magnetricity which will sort out new Faraday’s and Maxewell’s in the 21st Century. May you have participation in it.

*S.T. Bramwell, S. R. Giblin, S. Calder, R. Aldus, D. Prabhakaran & T. Fennell